A Message From Our Program Coordinator - Ryan Laughlin!
Written by Ryan Laughlin, Program Coordinator
Hey, SODA folks! My name is Ryan Laughlin, and I am SODA’s new Program Coordinator. I was born in Charlotte, North Carolina, and raised in South Carolina where I went to Winthrop University for a bachelor's degree in economics. My time in undergrad was very formative and, after a few years, it steered me in the direction of student advising in a collegiate environment.
Working in Higher Education
After spending some time working in the corporate world as a Senior Digital Marketing Specialist, I quickly realized my true passion was in the collegiate experience. I had been serving as an advisor for my local fraternity chapter ever since graduating in 2017 and had loved giving my time and talent back to my campus. A colleague of mine reminded me I could make this my job if I got my master’s in a higher education-related field. In less than a year, I had applied, been accepted into the Student Affairs Administration master’s program at Appalachian State University, and taken an offer to work as the graduate assistant of Fraternity and Sorority Life in the Campus Activities office. This began my career as a student affairs professional, dedicated to mentorship during the collegiate experience outside of the classroom.
While working and studying at Appalachian State, I began my journey into social justice work, as I tackled my own discovery of the privileges I innately held. I was motivated to use my story as a way to help others from privileged backgrounds recognize their identities and discover how they can be better allies to those coming from minoritized backgrounds.
Prior to graduating from Appalachian State, I decided to leave my assistantship early and work with the Georgia Tech Student Foundation, an organization housed under the alumni association. While working in this role, I helped the students plan events, develop as fundraisers, invest their endowment, and run a funding grant application that was completely student-run. These roles and my master’s degree have given me the skills needed to propel SODA’s student program into the future and support new chapters as we increase our recruitment efforts.
Read Ryan's bio on our "About" page!
Next Steps for SODA
As Program Coordinator, I hope to spend more time with all of our students and ensure they have everything needed to succeed as organ donation advocates on their campuses. I am always inspired by the power of a motivated student on a college or high school campus, and I see this spirit in SODA’s student leaders. With deeper support, I hope we can make an even greater impact together.
In the next five years, I truly believe we can have multiple chapters in every Organ Procurement Organization service area.
See our current list of chapters here.
I’m looking forward to continuing to strengthen the effect SODA has had on student engagement in the world of organ donation advocacy. I feel honored to be a part of this positive change and support our students as they save lives.
It would not have been possible for me to join this team without the community of donors that gives to SODA so we can continue to grow and work to save more lives. I want to thank Nicole and Sara for their leadership and knowledge as they’ve helped prepare me for this role and continue to pave the way for more growth in this organization. I look forward to my future with SODA and am excited to begin supporting the field of organ and tissue donation through the power of education and registration efforts!
Feel free to reach out to me at email@example.com with any questions, concerns, and ideas, or just to sit down and chat over some virtual coffee/tea!